All Signs Point Toward Jennifer Maia as Next No. 1 Contender for Valentina Shevchenko

By Tristen Critchfield Aug 2, 2020

Joanne Calderwood gave up her title shot to stay active, and Jennifer Maia ended up being the primary beneficiary from that decision.

Maia staked her claim to a No. 1 contender spot at UFC Fight Night 173, as she submitted Calderwood with an armbar in the first round of their co-main event clash at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Afterward, the Brazilian called out Valentina Shevchenko, and the reigning 125-pound queen seemed to be impressed by Maia’s performance, simply responding, “See you soon, Jennifer Maia.”

“Ever since I got in the UFC, I’ve never had an easy fight. I always test myself in those fights. I’m happy the champion is talking about me. I’m ready to fight for the title,” Maia said. “I want to fight with the champion. It’s going to be a pleasure to fight her.”

Maia has won nine of her last 11 fights in the UFC and Invicta dating back to 2015. While Shevchenko has looked nearly unbeatable since moving down to 125 pounds, Maia welcomes the challenge.

“She’s very good everywhere,” Maia said. “But we’re gonna find out when we fight. I’m feeling good, and I’m feeling ready.”

Shevchenko was supposed to make her next title defense against Calderwood in June before withdrawing from the bout due to injury. UFC president Dana White confirmed at Saturday’s post-fight press conference that Maia had all but clinched the No. 1 contender’s spot with her victory over Calderwood.

“I think that’s the fight,” White said. “I have a lot of respect for Jojo. She’s been working hard, taking her career serious and has been back on track since she moved to Vegas. Jennifer looked damn good tonight. Yeah, it makes sense for her and Valentina to fight.”


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